Don’t Let Your Mind Steer You In The Wrong Direction
How you FEEL – pleased with yourself, discouraged, etc – can play such a big role in how you approach life, and your goals. That’s why your mindset, and getting your head straight on things, is SO important.
My mindset hasn’t exactly been in the right place lately.
While I’ve continued to consistently eat low carb and stay on track with my keto diet & macros, that’s not all there is to life. Or to our weight loss goals and health journey.
I’ve really struggled with motivation and have been working through some serious hurdles to get back on track with my goals.
I love sharing the process (and the solutions!) along the way with you here, and so many of you have thanked me for the help and the inspiration & motivation to pick up and carry on – or power through.
You have helped ME more than you can ever know, just by being here for and with me through the journey, so thank YOU. A great example is the comments on my Facebook post yesterday about my hike:
Stinkin’ Thinkin’ = Rotten Results! 😛
PscyhologyToday.com defines it like this, “Stinking Thinking language fosters a bad way of thinking that makes you believe you will fail, that bad things will happen to you, or that you are not a very good person.
In usual form, when I’m struggling with something I like to look it up – so yes, I researched “stinkin thinkin” 🙂 lol.
Which lead me to a string of articles on “irrational thinking” which is something we’ve discussed here before. Such as “rewarding yourself” when in reality you’re actually punishing yourself. Or thinking you DESERVE a “treat” – knowing full well you’ll feel miserable, defeated, discouraged and frustrated.
Nice treat, hey? Is that REALLY what you DESERVE? 😛
The mind can argue anything in it’s favor.
Even when it’s WRONG.
Retraining your brain, or getting CONTROL of your mindset, is (in my opinion) the biggest key to making a positive lifestyle change. It’s the ONLY way to take a goal or a wish, and turn it into your reality.
It takes a lot of practice to master mindfulness, but it’s SO worth it! The difference is amazing as it takes you from a place of “victim of circumstance & surroundings” to… total empowerment.
Let’s say for example that you go to the local fair or carnival. Are you focused on the food, or on the FUN?
Most people associate fairs & carnivals with all the food vendors and allow themselves to be totally consumed with thoughts of ___ and ___ instead of the JOY and beauty of a ferris wheel ride. Or the FUN with friends & family.
All you have to do is switch your focus. Easier said than done, I know – it does take practice, but it IS possible and it’s SO worth it.
The result: you start ENJOYING life more!
What about holiday parties and catered social events? Most of those revolve around food. But they don’t have to!
Instead, consider the reason for the event. It’s to bring people together, it’s for human interaction, it can be to feed the soul – instead of feed the face.
One thing I’ve found that helps is to zero in on the youngest and oldest people in the room. Find a baby or toddler for example, and offer to hold or play with them while the mom eats.
Do you have any idea how grateful a mom would be to enjoy a meal with both hands?!:)
There’s something beautiful about sleeping babies and giggling toddlers. 🙂
The oldest people in the room are the ones with the stories, the wisdom, and the ability to impart wisdom on you that will stick with you for a lifetime.
My point: make it about the experiences – not the food.
Offer to help serve plates, or to clean up. You’ll end up having FUN and having much more social time, and feel GOOD about helping out! That’s a heck of a lot better than stuffing yourself with everything in sight, missing out on any real fellowship or memorable moments, and going home feeling disgusted.
That is NOT the point of holidays or social events. 😉 Right?!
Holding Yourself Back
(Or: Getting Sucked Into The Mind Madness)
It’s so easy to focus on what you have NOT achieved, instead of what you WANT to achieve. Or to be discouraged for not reaching a goal, instead of THRILLED at how far you’ve come so far.
Likewise, it’s easy to find yourself focused on what you can’t have – instead of all the wonderful results of choosing not to have those things.
As long as you’re focused on the negative, you’ll find it hard to summon the motivation to move forward. It can suck you in, and it’s a slippery slope with a downward spiral that leads into a VERY dark hole.
These are those “irrational thoughts” or stinkin’ thinkin’ I referred to earlier – and we all have them. Me included. I get sucked in more often than I care to admit.
Put Yourself In My Hiking Boots…
A Peak Inside My Messy Mind
I think I should walk you through this with a photo tour of my hike on Sunday, with my thoughts along the way – so you can really get a FEEL for where I’m going with this.
I hesitate about just how much I should share here, honestly. I almost shot a video at one point in my hike to tell you a story, then chose not to. I decided I needed to “sit on it all” awhile yet – you know: process the madness in my mind. 😉
I decided to go hiking on Sunday because the weather was beautiful here in Tennessee for an early December day, and one of my BIG goals is to get back to my exercise goals – and to find my JOY again with my adventurous hikes and outdoor adventures.
I live in the valley of the South Cumberland Plateau, which is culturally considered part of the Appalachian Mountains but not geologically so. Anyway, it takes me close to an hour to get up on the mountain – where I most like to hike and explore.
I was focused on the mountain ahead of me the entire time, and even said out loud:
“I’m on my way, mountain. It’s you and me today. We’re going to master each other.”
I’m not a trail hiker, I’m a nature lover.
I have this thing once I get outdoors where I feel one with nature or something. I go in ready to master the landscape, excited about the adventure ahead, only to climb out mastered – with nature imparting some deep wisdom on me in the process.
Except lately there’s a total disconnect. 🙁
You could say I’m in a spiritual funk, or just a personal funk. But the truth is: I’ve been focused inward, to the point of missing … the point.
Note: anytime you’re focused inward, on internal thoughts & feelings (mostly: irrational thoughts), instead of focusing forward on your goals and the life and reality around you – you are getting sucked into the dark hole.;)
This was my starting point for the hike on Sunday.
In the distance you can see Foster Falls. It’s massively beautiful when you get up close and personal with it, which I’ve done several times, from both the top and bottom.
I stood there for a second and plotted my route.
My goal was to hike all the way out to Small Wild and back, hit the Climber’s Loop on the way back, then hike down to the bottom of the falls and back up.
All places I had been before, but I was ready for some fresh NEW memories of this beautiful area. Sometimes the best way to stop associating a place or a thing with a memory… is to overwrite it with a new experience.
I had VERY GOOD intentions for this hike.
I even added some positivity bling to my new day pack. I bought those on a date with Aaron last winter, the same day I bought my new KEEN hiking boots. 🙂
I hiked at a fast pace for the first bit, testing out my new day pack (10 pounds more than I’m used to hiking with) and getting my heart rate up.
I navigated around Foster Falls, over the river, and around to the other side – exchanging smiles and hellos with other happy hikers along the way. I assume they were happy anyway, as I imagine they assumed about me as well.
My first stop was a bluff overlooking Foster Falls from the opposite side.
Behind me the bluff drops off sharply, maybe 100 feet at the most. The waterfall itself is 60 feet. There’s a little ledge there overlooking the falls that I love to sit on so I very carefully made my way down there.
That was a little sketchy with all the leaves and pine needles on the ground this time of year, which can throw your footing, but worth all the extra caution to sit in the sunshine and enjoy the amazing view from here!
All I meant to do was create new memories and experience new moments, but I found myself sucked back into the last time I sat in this very spot.
Instead of living in the moment and FEELING and experiencing everything around me – I was FEELING a moment from the past.
I let that memory replay in my mind like an old VHS tape.
That was a great day, and a FUN hike, and remembering all the laughter and sharing of that day made me feel… very alone all of a sudden.
I shouldn’t have opened that door in my mind, one that had been closed for awhile, because it’s like pandora’s box – one thought lead to another all the way to the sad ending of that friendship.
I left my thoughts of Ricky there on that bluff and headed back on the trail to revisit another bluff. Which is when I passed this sign in the woods:
I took that sign more seriously than I normally would, because I didn’t exactly feel “one with nature” anymore. Being focused inward makes you less aware of your surroundings, and less able to enjoy them.
I did proceed with caution, both feet and mind, forcing myself back into the moment I was in – one foot in front of the other.
I listened to the leaves crunch beneath my boots, paid attention to my steps, focused on my heart pounding from my fast pace. I just kept reeling myself back into the NOW.
At my next planned stop, there was a curious piece of driftwood:
This fellow sits there overlooking the valley on the edge of the bluff.
The only witness to a solo hiker’s fall? Silent witness to kisses and conversations on the flat rock overlooking the gorge?
I asked, but he didn’t answer.
I found the spot I had remembered from my last hike out to Small Wilds, a good place for a break and an amazing view.
Memories hit me again, like a time warp. I had forgotten about Dale. We went on exactly one hike (this one) through a local hiking group.
It was friendly enough until somewhere around this point, where he all of a sudden got awkward and weird – and the rest of the hike was anything but enjoyable. 😛 At one point he ran off and left me, and I (very unfortunately) caught up to him, lol.
I have no idea what put him off that day, but whatever. And why did I even let that bother me – then or now?! At least hiking alone I can go at my own pace, choose my path, and ENJOY the day.
Which made me think about why I’m hiking alone (again) lately. *sigh* I decided to get back on the trail and NOT head to Small Wilds – where I had an awkward lunch with Dale.
Instead I cut off on the trail to the Climber’s Loop which always fascinates me. It’s VERY popular with the rock climbers and I love to sit and watch them “master the rock wall.” They’re the coolest people on the planet, in my mind. 🙂
Unfortunately, I still hadn’t found my enthusiasm…
I searched for it. I stood still. Nope – nothing.
I saw a big rock formation down in the woods below the trail, and a large dark spot that might be a cave – or at least a cool opening to explore.
Normally this would EXCITE me (I love to explore!!) but not today.
I decided to GET excited and go check it out – do something FUN.
It was a steep hill down to the bottom, and super slick with all the leaves on the ground, but I made my way down carefully then sat down to get my things situated – with the intention of climbing that rock behind me.
As I was messing with my pack, I thought of Joe and a big smile crossed my face. We used to joke about how dangerous we would be if we were more prepared. 🙂
We were both “minimalist hikers” but very adventurous, limited only by our lack of rope and safety gear – which didn’t limit us much. 😛
I sat and took stock of the things in my brand new pack. I brought a headlamp and a flashlight, two extra power sources and extra batteries, a whistle, a fire starting kit, extra food and water, etc. You know, in case I got lost or injured and had to wait out help.
Weird. I’d never prepared for the worst like that before. But with the winter hours there’s less daylight, and you lose daylight even faster off in the woods or down in a gorge.
My lack of enthusiasm turned into totally deflated and I didn’t feel like climbing the rock behind me anymore. I thought about how excited I used to get about it. My eyes would light up and I’d say “I want to climb that!!”
Then I remembered one of the last times I said that out loud, on a crazy adventurous hike with my friend Caroline – and why we’re not friends anymore.
I grabbed my pack and climbed back up to the trail.
At that point even the Climber’s Loop had lost it’s appeal. There were pairs and groups of friends laughing and having a good time, and I hiked through and tried NOT to remember the last time I laughed on a trail (or at all).
I got to the sign that said: Trail — » and promptly turned « — left instead.
I have no idea why. It wasn’t a conscious decision but in hindsight I suppose I was avoiding the direction I knew THAT would take me – down yet another tun on memory lane. Besides, I had to pee.
All of a sudden I was on a steep incline, but it seemed like a pretty clear path so I figured it had to lead somewhere.
It did: way below the bluff I was sitting high up on earlier, lol.
I’m thinking that bluff overlook (and the trail!) had to be just up above. Right? Surely.
Could I climb it? I carefully considered my surroundings. I wasn’t so sure going back down the way I came was any safer than scaling this bluff above me.
I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. Literally 😛 lol. There looked to be plenty of hand and foot holds in the rock bluff, and behind me was a drop off that was hard enough to climb up – much less down – and would make for a helluva fall.
I decided to go for it.
It turned out there were THREE levels of straight up bluff to climb, but I did make it back up to the upper trail. 🙂
And guess where I came out??
Right back where I was earlier…
I felt a brief sense of accomplishment, a good adrenaline rush, wet knees and a few stings from scrapes on my hands and arms – and a quick realization that I was losing daylight.
I hiked out at a fast pace, but I was famished by then. It was going on 4pm and all I’d had was eggs that morning for breakfast.
I decided to stop at the river that flows over Foster Falls and refuel on a big flat rock before I hiked out.
I brought lots of foods with me, but nothing really appealed. I just wanted something quick & filling. I chose the Organic Rosemary Walnuts and the Keto Shake I had gotten in a recent keto box.
The walnuts were good, even though I don’t like the flavor of Rosemary. When you’re famished and in the middle of nowhere though, food is food!
The Keto Shake though… DELICIOUS! 🙂
It was thick, rich and SOOO good. Yum! It’s also zero net carbs, 300 calories and high fat – so it’s perfect for fueling up on a hike, and so portable!
I’m definitely going to order more of the Keto Shake mix, in both chocolate and vanilla. I’d like to start using that in my coffee, and will definitely be using it on my hikes. You can’t beat zero net carbs and perfect LCHF macros. 😉
Sadly (?) that shake was the highlight of my day in the woods. 🙄
The sun was starting to go down, the breeze was getting cooler by the minute, and I sat there on the cold rock lost in my thoughts… eating alone.
I thought of all the people I’d shared my healthy snacks with on the trails before this one. The picnics, the laughs, the conversations…all the experiences.
Funny how I could fit all of those experiences in a small shoulder bag or a fanny pack. I’m not sure what inspired me to buy a day pack or carry an extra 10 pounds of stuff hiking alone.
Alone – there was that word again.
Being alone never bothered me before. Or did it? There I went thinking back over past hikes again, recalling the feelings.
RE-calling the feelings. Like calling up an old friend. Or more like conjuring up the dead. 😛
Interestingly those three bracelets on my arm, they all hold meaning. I suppose I chose to wear them on this hike for a reason. One of them is a string of goofy little monkeys that I bought the day Molly died. The other two, memories from love and loss as well.
I figured I better hike out before I actually had to USE all the light gear I brought with me in that pack, lol – and so I did.
I barely made it out before dark fell. In fact, it was pitch dark by the time I pulled out of the parking area and started on the hour drive home.
Which is when I was faced with the big bright full moon…
Hello Chris. We always shared the full moon, in thought if not in words. How long had it been? He was a good friend, the good friend I never really had, just a chance meeting – twice – and otherwise just two random people under the same full moon many miles apart.
Just then a song came pouring through my speakers, the song Ricky proposed to me to while dancing I guess 2 1/2 years ago. That’s the first time I’ve heard that song in ages. Wow.
Why in the world is all of this swirling through my mind so heavy today, I asked myself. What was I supposed to learn on my hike today? Did nature even have a lesson for me this time, or did I totally miss it because I was consumed by my own thoughts?
I fought back tears, took a deep breath, and just drove home in silence.
And then YOU showed me what I missed.
I got home dirty, exhausted and emotionally spent. I shared a few pictures from my day online while I was unpacking and getting ready for bed. Including this one:
Without sharing my thoughts or my frame of mind, I asked:
“Alone, in the woods, on the edge of a bluff, in the middle of nowhere… put yourself in my hiking boots: what are you thinking?”
‘Life is pretty damn good’
‘How beautiful life really is when you actually look around and view it.’
‘Wow, that God is a great artist!’
Missing The Forest For The Trees
The meaning behind that idiom is simply that you are so focused on the little details that you miss the big picture altogether.
Or in my case, so focused on the past that I could not enjoy the present – or focus on the future.
Which brings us around to the whole point of this post…
Focusing On What Matters
There’s nothing wrong with revisiting your past and learning from it. There’s nothing wrong with mourning true losses in your life either. You just can’t STAY there. Not if you want to live your NOW, or move forward to a new and better place in your life.
Being stuck in my own head and allowing myself to get sucked into that dark hole of churning irrational thoughts is why I’ve been stuck – and why I’ve lost my JOY for hiking. Or one of the reasons, at least.
You Are Here.
I’m reminded of those maps in the mall, or on the hiking trail board, or in complex buildings. You know, the one with the big red X that reads “you are here” – so you can figure out where the heck you are, and where the nearest exit is, or at least the nearest starbucks. 😉
Let’s all take a moment to plant our feet firmly on the ground we’re on, and define HERE. This is where I stand, right here, right now. This is my life, as it is today.
Just take a moment to FEEL that, and to EMBRACE it.
That ^ is the next best question. Not “what if?” or “why that” – just: What next?
What is the next best step in YOUR life?
I’ve been feeling stuck on that red X for awhile now.
I realize that I’ve been holding myself back, for months on end actually. Not just with my exercise goals, but with many of my life goals.
I’m not sure. Maybe this was a necessary phase of processing, and of acceptance, with a bit of grieving layered in. Maybe I was waiting on something. Maybe I was afraid of moving forward, or what I might leave behind when I did. Maybe it’s just a funk. Whatever.
What I do know is this:
We are the only ones responsible for being held back, or not achieving our goals – or living up to our full potential.
It’s easy to blame others, or blame life or circumstances & situations. But at some point we have to accept responsibility for allowing those things to hold us back. We might use them as excuses or crutches, when the reality is that we choose to be swept along with life – instead of boldy blazing a trail ourselves.
“Set your mind on a definite goal and observe how quickly the world stands aside to let you pass.” ― Napoleon Hill
We are either leading our life, or we are allowing it (or others) to lead us.
I say it’s time to take the lead. It doesn’t have to be in a way that spites or hurts anyone in your life – but at least in a way that no longer spites or hurts… yourself.
Every problem presents an Opportunity.
I’ve been in business now for more than 20 years, and one thing I’ve learned is that every problem or weakness or struggle presents an opportunity of some sort.
Otherwise I would have folded many years ago. 😉
I’ve always used problems and changes in my business as leverage to get to the next step, or explored them for creative opportunities. That’s exactly what has kept my business thriving for two full decades.
I was reminded of that in a brainstorming session recently, and started considering how I could put that same logic to use in my personal life. How I could use my current “problem” to my advantage – and I did find opportunity in it.
It all goes back to mindset.
We’re either focused on the problem, or focused on the solution.
I’ve been focused on the latter for a little too long.
It’s time to get back to my goals…
On a positive note, I got a GREAT workout yesterday. I’m feeling it today too lol, I’m quite stiff and feeling some serious muscle tension – which is a GOOD feeling!
My Fitbit syncs with my MyFitnessPal app, which is cool.
Here are how my macros & stats worked out for the day:
I didn’t have any dinner after my hike. You might have noticed I didn’t eat any dinner on Thanksgiving night either. I used to “fill the void” with food (binge eating). Now I tend to match the void physically, and just fall asleep to the emptiness.
I can’t say that’s any better. That’s the reason I don’t do Intermittent Fasting, by the way. People ask me about that all the time. First because I have a very fluid lifestyle (I don’t eat or sleep on a schedule). But more importantly because “going without” (intentionally, such as fasting) becomes as much a point of “food control” as binge eating was for me.
I prefer to eat for fuel, listen to my body and eat when I’m hungry, and not focus on food as a means of control – but rather healthy nourishment. I’m not saying fasting is a bad thing, it’s just that my history with food issues makes it… an issue for me.
I’m working on working this all out.
This is my journey.
My goal: to become the happiest, healthiest version of myself – inside and out, mentally/emotionally and physically.
I feel like I’m finally coming out of the woods. 🙂
I have a thing for idioms lately, lol. I’ve always loved a good pun! The meaning: “past a critical phase, freed from a previous state of uncertainty or danger.”
Maybe that’s why I felt the need to go hiking deep into the forest of the South Cumberland Plateau again: so I could come out of the woods. 🙂
This week I’m going to sit down with my Inner Guide Motivation & Success Planner and work out how I want to move forward from HERE (“x”). I absolutely LOVE this planner, for a DEEP look into your true goals – and how to get there.
Tales From The Trails
I love the life lessons I learn on my hikes. But this time… the lesson came from you, after I returned. Your comments really spoke to me, LOUD AND CLEAR, and made me realize that I need to get back to focusing on what matters – and stop allowing myself to focus on what doesn’t.
Thank you for that.
I love my new day pack, by the way. It’s super comfortable, even with ten pounds of extra weight to carry, and it’s nice to be able to pack up everything for a full day of exploration – internal and external. My journal and planner above slips right into the front compartment, and I carried it with me on my hike yesterday. 🙂
My new pack is part of the new me, and I’ll carry it with me on my adventures going forward. I think I’ll have fun with it, deciding what all to take with me while out exploring. 🙂
I feel a turning point coming on, back to reality – back to my NOW. I’m ready to pull myself out of this funk and get back to creating my future.
Remember… You Are Here: X
It doesn’t matter how you got here, it doesn’t even matter where HERE is, all that matters is what direction you choose to go next.
Going back is not an option. Standing still is not an option. It’s time to take your next step, make your next move. What direction are you going?
Focus On What Matters
Don’t get consumed by thoughts that don’t serve you. Switch your focus to where you are now, and where you want to go next in your life.
Let go of hurt, disappointment, discouragement, or anything you THINK defines you – or all the things that brought you to the point you are (“X”). From now on, focus on the future – and on what you want to do, and how you want to BE… next.
That’s what matters: here, now and next.
Everything else is just slowing you down.
(Apologies, I’m ^ talking to myself there!)
Live with intention, and deliberate purpose.
p.s. I’m not normally a Taylor Swift fan, but looking up “out of the woods” brought up this video. I like how she returns to herself in the end (spoiler, sorry). The very last scene really spoke to me:
If you read this far, I might owe you an apology. 🙂 My thoughts are quite scattered lately, but hopefully something in all of this spoke to you… and helps you as much as it did me.
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